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Portraits by Ottavio Leoni (1578-1630)


'In all Rome there was no one who had not his portrait by Ottavio - whether prince, princess, gentlemen, or persons of private rank - and not a house in which some portrait from the hand of the Cavaliere was not to be seen.'
(Giovanni Baglione, Lives of the artists, 1642)

In the early seventeenth century, Rome was a melting pot of new ideas in science and art, and a meeting place for the leading virtuosi of the age. The patronage of three successive popes and their families - Borghese, Ludovisi and Barberini - changed the face of the city. Their power and patronage attracted writers, composers and artists whose individual and collaborative creativity gave birth to Baroque Rome.

This virtual exhibition brings these characters together in prints and drawings by the leading Roman portraitist of his time, and traces some of the links between them.

The Fitzwilliam Museum's collection includes nearly all of Leoni's portrait prints, which came from the collections of Lord Fitzwilliam (1745-1816) and John Charrington (1856-1939). The exhibition also includes two drawings by Leoni from the Fitzwilliam Museum's collection and five drawings reproduced with the generous permission of the Master, Fellows, and Scholars of Downing College in the University of Cambridge

This exhibition went live to coincide with the gallery display Galileo and his contemporaries: Portraits by Ottavio Leoni (1578-1630) (2 November 2010 - 13 February 2011).